OTR Interviews

Cal Ripken, Jr. Looks Back on Hall of Fame Career, Looks Forward with New Book, 'Hothead'

Baseball Hall of Famer and 'Iron Man' discusses career and new book 'Hothead' with Greta

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 17, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, "ON THE RECORD" GUEST HOST: Imagine having a job, but you are not allowed to call in sick, ever. Would you take that job? You would if you were baseball great Cal Ripken, Jr. Nearly 16 years ago the former Baltimore Orioles shortstop and third baseman broke a huge record in baseball. He surpassed Lou Gehrig's record when he played his 2,131 consecutive game. So how did the so-called "Iron Man" do it? Does he miss those days on the field? Greta caught up with the baseball great and author of the new book "Hothead," Cal Ripken, Jr.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: I don't think anyone can forget the night you broke the record and went full circle. Do you ever forget that?

CAL RIPKEN, JR., MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HALL OF FAMER: No. In many cases it seems like it was yesterday. But if you look at the calendar, 15 years ago. It was a special night, one that was part embarrassing, because I didn't want that much attention, one of the greatest human experiences that you can have. I got to share it with my family. It became a personal celebration amongst this whole grand national celebration.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think the other thing that what was fun for everybody it wasn't just the orioles celebrating, the other dugout came out. Everybody in the whole game, everyone who likes baseball, if you -- between you didn't, it wasn't just the Orioles' fans we all got to enjoy it.

RIPKEN: It was beyond Baltimore. The timing was right. They cancelled the World Series the year before. People were looking for things to love about baseball. The street connected an era of baseball with Lou Gehrig that people looked at and loved. It was sort of a celebration of baseball and happened to be the vehicle at the right time and right place.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have any aches and pains from baseball or not?

RIPKEN: I have a lot. I had aches and pains when I played. No player is ever 100 percent, 80 percent, 85 percent. Guys that play 158 or 162 or 145, we are all in the same boat.

VAN SUSTEREN: No doubt you had the greatest baseball career, or at least among them. I don't want to take away from Babe Ruth. You are also an author. What provoked the new book?

RIPKEN: I love baseball. The game allowed me the influence to impact kids in a positive way. This gives me a chance to talk to some social issues. It is about a travel team, the group of characters that come together we all can relate to that. This kid had a temper. I had a temper. And I had to figure out how to deal with the temper. It is a good way to communicate with kids -- how do you channel that temper and make it work for you?

VAN SUSTEREN: It is interesting in professional sports, young women, all of a sudden they are huge stars and make tons of money and do very well. All of a sudden, one day it is over, at a young age. You see Brett Favre had a great career, one day it is over, or Mike Tyson, whether he had a good exit or not. How do you deal with the sort of all of a sudden that stardom is over?

RIPKEN: I haven't decided whether I had a good exit or not. I decided I played in the wrong era. Every era after seeps to make more and more money that is a funny thing. You are faced with a decision as a young person. I was 41, I had the longest of careers. But what do you do now? You get a lot of stimulation daily, it is gone. The key is to find something else you love to do.

I've been working in the grassroots of baseball for a long time, teaching kids, building complexes many owning minor teams. I've been able to step into something else. It gives you the same feeling you when you played.

VAN SUSTEREN: What I love about baseball is the crack of the bat when it hits the ball.

RIPKEN: There's the smell of the grass, the dirt, the feeling of baseball. I haven't been down mere in a while so I'm reliving some of those moments. Certainly, the crack of the bat has a greater meaning. Baseball can be slow in many ways. The action starts with when the pitcher delivers the ball. But the action really starts when the crack of the bat happens.

VAN SUSTEREN: Was it play or work for you?

RIPKEN: Play. I say it's a delayed growing up. You could be a kid for as long as you want when you play baseball.

VAN SUSTEREN: You always made it look fun. We admire your success. As I said I could watch that video a million times of you doing the circle and everyone being excited. But it is not easy, all the nights on the road, away from your family. It is a tough sport.

RIPKEN: The irony is, the hard things that you complained about are the things that you missed, because it is all about being part of a team, the people, experiences. Yes, everybody sees you, you strike out or come through in a clutch in the field. People think that's the most important thing. But being on a plane, being in a dug out, being in the clubhouse during a rain delay, as mundane as that might sound you are with people on the inside looking out.

It was a wonderful chance. The things that you do miss the most, the irony is they are the hard struggles. You are away from your family, 162 games in 175 days, you are playing every day. There's no such thing as calling in sick. There's no weekends. No summer vacations. You are just playing. Those are the things you miss the most when it is said and done.

VAN SUSTEREN: No calling in sick. Were you ever sick?

RIPKEN: I had a fever. Had different sicknesses many by and large I was healthy. I was given a good set of genes. It is not a situation where you call in. They will tell you we got doctors here, we'll get you ready to play.

VAN SUSTEREN: Great sport isn't it?

RIPKEN: Fantastic.

VAN SUSTEREN: Miss it?

RIPKEN: You don't miss it until you are on the field again. Clubhouse, on the field, it feels like that's the space where you belong. Sure, I'm in an office now, doing other things that give fulfillment. But I'm most comfortable sitting in front of a locker or a bench.

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